Certainly not during the final in-processing, when, as usual for a starbase, they took far too long to get her combadge properly programmed, and the commander gave her a welcoming speech that made her too aware that she’d served under commanders that had impressed her much more. Nor during the first hour or so in her new lab, which she’d been in already, but she was still getting used to the new version of the computer interface, which had gone through a dozen upgrades while she’d been on Qo’onos until it was barely recognizable. There was even one scary moment where she thought she’d accidentally deleted everything. She did get a breather once she felt all the objections and databanks in the lab were in order, and there was nothing to immediately do for an hour or so, during which she read further about Martisheva’s famous chemicals and the animals that produced them, and contemplated what that said about the planet’s ecosystem.
That was what she was doing when Commander Adam Sand came in. The starbase’s second-in-command, he had not been expected. He looked a little furtive, and his voice was very quiet as he asked, “Can we talk alone, Commander Dax?”
“There’s no one else in here,” she answered.
“Good,” he said, and moved away from the door even though it has closed already. “This may be a strange thing for you to hear on your first day here, but I would like to offer you a new position. This isn’t general knowledge yet, and I would prefer if you kept it to yourself, but I have been offered command of the science ship U.S.S. Hawking. They’re looking for a first officer, and I’ve been given the opportunity to take one with me. You've impressed me, Commander. I'd like to take you. I could even get you promoted, and I am aware, Commander, that that might otherwise be difficult for you.”
A command position, on a science ship. Jadzia didn’t find it that easy to keep her composure just at the thought of such a thing. Had she been without any commitments, it would have been perfect. And given she and Worf both had unofficial black marks on their career that ought to keep either of them from ever being promoted higher than their current rankings, that was just added bonus. She wanted to cry out yes, I’ll take it.
But she couldn’t. Instead she asked, “What about my husband?”
“I don’t know,” he said, and then she knew she probably wouldn’t be able to take it, especially when he added, “I may or may not have the ability to choose my own security chief.”
She opened her mouth, but maybe guessing her response, Commander Sand said, “I don’t want an answer right now. I’m going to make the formal offer in two or three days, depending on how things go on the Admiral’s desk. Take time to think about it until then.”
“Very well, sir,” she said, though privately, she already knew it would only happen if he could make it to Worf as well, and she had the general feeling he couldn’t, from what she had heard about security selections.
The rest of her first shift on the Starbase passed without incident, though she didn’t get as much reading done as she would’ve liked; she kept thinking about the Commander’s offer. She did wish badly she could take it.
Just before the shift ended she got a call from Mr. Bartoli, the man in charge of the Starbase’s school. “Sorry for the inconvenience,” he said, “but could you come here in half an hour? Commander Sand wants to talk to me at our original time. You can bring your lunch if you want.”
Jadzia quietly wondered all through getting her lunch what exactly the Commander wanted with Mr. Bartoli, especially since she was pretty sure he was childless. Was he trying to recruit him too, or his wife, since he was a Starfleet spouse?
She didn’t think it was a good idea to ask, though, when she got there, and he looked a little grim-faced even before she sat down. “So,” he said to her. “Tell me about your son. Be advised his reputation precedes him.”
That was not a good start, and Jadzia had to bite back the urge to snap at him, which would’ve made it worse. To prevent it, she said, “His full name is Turink Rozhenko, son of Worf, though we almost never use the human surname. He is seven years old, though keep in mind Klingons age pretty fast; think of him as being more along the lines of ten or eleven years old. Though he might still have to attend classes with the younger children, especially since I’m afraid Qo’onos does not have the strongest curriculums in the universe. We’ve been asking around about standardized testing to determine his level, though so far we’ve received contradictory answers.”
“Those tests don’t mean much anyway,” said Mr. Bartoli; that was another think Jadzia and Worf had already heard from more than one person. “But what is this I’ve heard about his being involved in fights?”
“You shouldn’t draw too much from that,” said Jadzia. “Fights are practically required of the boys in Klingon schools.” She wondered how long that line would last her.
“I believe you,” he said, but he neither looked nor sounded like he really did. “Still, the largest problem I can see at the moment is his level; I, too, have heard something about the deficiency of the Klingon curriculum. I would like to bring him in for my own evaluation. Tomorrow morning, perhaps? When are you on shift then?”
“That’s fine; you can drop him off on your way. Fortunately the school is currently on our two-week break-we take one every three months, so we can determine his proper placement at our leisure.”
Most of the rest of the interview was telling Jadzia things she knew already about the school: the hours, the students, the grades, the subjects. She listened through it with a good show of attention, asked questions mostly about the details she actually didn’t know yet, and reminded herself that many Starfleet parents wouldn’t have done the research about the school beforehand she had. One thing she could give him credit for was as far as she could tell he told no lies; her research had included avenues that would have exposed to her at least some of the lies he might have told.
It maybe went on a little too long, though; it was past 1330 when she headed back to her quarters. Her second shift was at 1800; unfortunate, as she would’ve liked to spend more time with Turink as well as get some good rest. Though she wasn’t even sure Turink was in their quarters at the moment; he was submitting to a long examination by the Starbase’s doctors that day.
Indeed, he wasn’t there when she got in. Instead Nerys was waiting at the door with a very serious expression on her face, and her greeting was, “Hi, can we talk?” Looked like she wasn’t going to be get much relaxation at all.
And then, when the door was shut behind them Nerys said, “Worf contacted me this morning and said he wasn’t going to write me a recommendation.”
“What?” Jadzia asked in shock. “Why not?”
“Because he’s writing one for Odo instead.” It broke Jadzia’s heart all over again to hear the bitterness with which she said her former lover’s name. “When did he come back to the Alpha Quadrant?”
“Two months ago. But we had no idea until last night,” Jadzia started to explain. “The Link kicked him out...”
“Right,” Nerys cut her off. “Did you know it is not customary for an outgoing Ambassador to write more than one recommendation for Starfleet, especially when it would be for two individuals belonging to two races not on the best terms with the Federation right now?”
Jadzia shook her head. “Look,” she said, “I can try to convince Worf to do it anyway. It sounds a little silly, to be honest. Or we’ll find someone else to write it.” She thought for a moment about Commander Sand’s offer, which would have enabled her to write it herself, but then againk, the promotion might still be denied even if she took the transfer.
“There won’t be another willing to write it, you know that.” Nerys was right; Jadzia thought, the whole sequence of events was too infamous. “So I have to have that recommendation out of your husband, Jadzia, one way or another.”
There was something about the way she said this that made Jadzia uneasy, and she found herself saying, “Nerys, I hate to say this, but I can’t promise you anything. Worf can get very stubborn sometimes, especially if he decides something is a matter of honor. It’s perfectly possible that no matter what I say to him, he won’t budge. So you should prepare yourself for that.”
“I will not,” was the harshly spoken reply. “Please understand, Jadzia, I won’t be nice about this anymore. I’m different from who and what I used to be. These past two years things have been so bad I’ve had to be ruthless and heartless to everyone around me just to survive. If I’ve done that already, I can do it again.”
Jadzia was now getting more and more alarmed by the moment, and she protested, “Nerys, you can’t walk up to Worf and hold a phaser to his head and insist he write you a recommendation.”
“I know that,” she snapped. “That’s not what I’m talking about. What I mean is what I know about you, what I know could destroy your career if it ever came out publicly. I know what you did near the end of the war when you and Worf escaped Cardassian space.”
Jadzia shook her head. “You can’t do that either. All the details about my disobeying orders are classified right along with where exactly Worf and I were when we were captured, and they aren’t going to be declassified anytime soon. And it’s not like anyone will care that I ran off to rescue my husband, not really. Starfleet won’t court-martial me for it, not if they haven’t already; the information’s still too sensitive. You go talking about that to the masses, all that will happen if you’ll be arrested. You took a Starfleet commission once, which means they are perfectly allowed to do that to you. And they will.” And surely, Jadzia told herself, surely, Nerys didn’t know about what Starfleet Command didn’t know about, what no one knew about. She’d even kept it concealed from Worf, who’d slept through the whole thing while she’d been on watch alone.
Except that her next words were, “Oh no, Jadzia. I know about what happened when the two of you nearly crashed on Yormok III. I know who lured you there. I know what state you left him in, assuming he’d die and the secret of your deed would die with him. I ran into him a year ago, in the places I’ve been to. I must admit, hearing his story changed my view of you completely. I didn’t believe him until he provided me with the recordings, which he left me with a copy of. I’ve spent all this time hoping I’d never have to use them, but make no mistake, Jadzia, I am ready to.”
It took Jadzia a very long moment before she was able to think of what to say to that, during which Nerys pressed on, “Why did you do it, Jadzia? Why did you answer his distress call and then leave him?”
“He would have killed Worf,” Jadzia said immediately. “He made it clear to me. He didn’t care that we were rescuing him, he said, it was his duty as a relation of Duras, and the minute Worf woke he would challenge him to battle, and this was when Worf was in no state to fight him, and of course he still wouldn’t have refused. I did everything I could to try to get him to give the idea up, and he wouldn’t. He told me flat out, if I wanted my husband to live, I had to leave him there to die. So I did. I had to.” She tried to keep the pleading out of her voice, but she couldn’t. Her mind was racing, thinking about how the Federation public would probably react to that story, and how the Klingon government would definitely react, even if Martok backed her.
“Maybe you had to or maybe you didn’t,” shrugged Nerys. “Ultimately I’m past caring. If my application fails, those recordings come out. Understand?”
“You’ll probably still be arrested,” Jadzia protested weakly.
“There’s no guarantee of conviction if all they have on me is your word,” she shrugged. “And even if there was, I’m past caring about that too. That kind of fear has just led to me living on the fringe, and I’m through with that. It’s all or nothing for me now.”
“But Nerys,” she was almost pleading now, “I’m telling you, I might not be able to do it. Are you really going to punish me for something I’m not able to do?”
For a moment she did look guilty. But then she said, “Well, I could always present the recordings to Worf instead, see what he does.”
“He won’t do anything,” sighed Jadzia. “He’s Worf. If anything, it’ll harden him against you.” That was all she was going to say to Nerys on that matter. But she thought about what she knew Worf would also do, if the secret ever did become public, and she knew she really would do anything to prevent that.
“We’ll see,” shrugged Nerys. “If we have to. But all I know is I’m through being isolated in disgrace when so far I’ve haven't done anything to deserve that. Back when the Cardassians got sadistic and started randomly going after people you know, we used to say to ourselves, might as well be guilty of what you're being punished for. Either the punishment stops, right now, or I'm going to take a Starfleet officer or two with me. Good day.”
Jadzia said nothing to this. She dared not open her mouth, for fear she might let slip to Nerys just how much her final words had had their impact. For the same reason she didn’t even move, but just stared as her old friend stomped out. Only when the door was safely closed did she stagger to the couch.
She knew already what she had to do, she supposed. She had to somehow convince Worf to write a recommendation for Nerys as well. She probably would have tried to do that anyway, and she had plenty of arguments she could make.
They could work, she told herself. She’d argued Worf into doing things against his normal nature before. Sometimes they had even been big things, and this was a silly human custom that surely couldn’t be that important to him.
It would work. “It will work,” she said out loud. She had to make it work, and therefore she would; it was as simple as that.
Worf arrived back after Turink, but he was napping, so at least she didn’t have to worry about him overhearing anything complicated, and on impulse she said, “Nerys told me today you’re not going to write her the recommendation.”
“I cannot write one for both her and Odo. It is not allowed.” He spoke it as a simply matter of fact. She might or might not be able to work with that.
“Are you sure about that?” she tried. “She did mention that, but she described it as custom rather than actual rule. You could conceivably ignore it.”
But he shook his head, saying, “I cannot.”
“Why?” she demanded, trying to sound genuinely angry; after all, had Nerys not made the threat to her she had, she actually would’ve felt indignant on her old friend’s behalf. “You ought to think about the fact that she shouldn’t even need it; she even received a Starfleet commission once. And that you were the only officer willing to write it isn’t a fair situation for her; she’s been wronged more by the galaxy than she’s wronged anyone else, and I don’t care what anyone else says about that, it’s true, and you know it. Personally, I think it would be almost without honor to just deny her what she deserves on such arbitrary grounds.”
“It is not arbitrary grounds, and we know nothing of the sort,” Worf barked in response. “She has never even talked much about her role in the entire affair. And to write the recommendation, remember, I had to ask her about it, and it was like pulling ridge-hairs out of a petulant child to get even a minimum of information. She is still hiding something, Jadzia; I am certain of that.”
She probably was, Jadzia thought; when she remembered the Nerys she had dealt with earlier that day, she had to face that she was certainly capable of wrongdoing. Jadzia wasn’t sure how much she even might have blamed her, at least for whatever she did related to the scandal. But Worf would, so instead she said, “Maybe she was trying to protect someone else. Remember how many other names were connected to the scandal, and also that rumor that Shakaar came close to being indicted; maybe she still cares for him enough to protect him. At any rate she might not have wanted to sell him out just to get into Starfleet.”
“If he has done wrong then she ought not to participate in the concealment of it. She should’ve gone to the authorities as soon as she knew. If Shakaar has committed crimes, he should be in jail. If you are right, then I could not write a recommendation for her even if I wasn’t writing one for Odo.”
Jadzia’s heart was sinking already, hearing this, and then he added, “In fact, even when we first discussed this matter I was inclined against it. I might have refused if you had not been so in favor of it. But I can only go so far in indulging you, Jadzia. To write a recommendation for Kira now is simply impossible; I would not change things now if I could. We should go wake up Turink from his nap.” And before she could protest further, he had stalked off towards their son’s room.
“I’ll let you have some father-son time,” she called after him, then slunk to the far side of the room, even as she tried not to lose her composure so much. She wished in that moment that she could still harbor some hope of changing his mind, but she knew him too well for that. She knew exactly what would happen now, unless someone or something intervened.
Somehow she had her face back on when Worf and Turink emerged, and the latter ran over to her and said, “Mama! Have you heard the news that Dr. Bashir has been offered a promotion?”
“No!” Jadzia exclaimed, truly stunned. He had never said a word about the possibility. That wasn’t like him, to not advertise a potential success at all; she remembered the message he’d sent to everyone he knew when he’d been promoted to lieutenant commander a couple of years back.
She exchanged glances with Worf, who said, “Dr. Bashir had a conversation with him earlier today, in which he advised him he might be promoted off this Starbase. But I have not heard anything about this either.”
“I’ll contact him about it,” said Jadzia, as the thought formed in her head that if Julian got another promotion, it would probably be into a position where he would be able to write Nerys a recommendation. It was suddenly all she could do not to show any sign of the desperate hope that ignited a heart that had just started despairing.
She wished she could have run to the console then. But that would almost certainly have caused questions from Worf that she absolutely could not answer. Instead she had to stay there, acting like their entire universe wasn’t threatening to crash and burn, even wrestle with Turink and smile and laugh the entire time, especially when he pinned her, and basked in the praise from both his parents for doing so. He didn’t even hurt her at all, which was usually a relief, of course, but now it meant she didn’t have an excuse to comm Julian a little earlier.
It wasn’t until Turink was eating his supper that the two of them ended up comming him together, which wasn’t exactly what Jadzia would’ve liked to have had happen. Still, it finally gave her the chance to learn if he could indeed prove their salvation, even if Worf could never know about it. So she kept that smile on her face as Worf greeted him and repeated what Turink had said. But then Julian shook his head and said, “Yes, I have received an offer, and in truth, when I talked to Turink, less than half an hour later, I was seriously considering taking it. But now I don’t think I will.”
“Why not?” It was much louder and more upset than Jadzia would have liked it to be when it came out of her; both men were clearly confused, which felt to her like a blow.
It took another moment even after his face turned thoughtful for Julian to respond. Finally he sighed, “It’s...difficult to explain. But right now I just want to stay here.”
She would have to talk to him later, Jadzia knew. Away from Worf. Not even just because he couldn’t know why Jadzia needed him to take that promotion; she wasn’t absolutely certain she dared tell even him about that. She knew, somewhere in her, that ever since she had started dating Worf Julian had never talked to her completely honestly in his presence, nor she in his, and they would need to be able to.
For now, Worf responded, “If that is what you wish, then. When will you answer? Will it be before you next meet with Turink?”
“Should be,” said Julian. “I’m afraid he might be disappointed, especially if I have to take any more blood samples from him.” He chuckled at that, but even as she faked a chuckle back, Jadzia thought there was something odd about the way he did it, though she couldn’t pinpoint what.
Most of the rest of their conversation ended up being about Turink, and Jadzia got through it, feeling guilty for how hard it was to concentrate, even when they were discussing the more important details.
Towards the end of it, they ended up agreeing to meet for dinner in two days. That cheered all three of them, until Julian then said, “I’m going have dinner with Kira tomorrow, and I’d like to meet with Odo too. Do you know when you might see him next?”
“Tomorrow,” said Worf. “We are scheduled to meet to further discuss his recommendation after I get off shift.”
Then, Jadzia thought. She had the feeling Worf would ask Odo every question he could think of. This interview with Nerys had taken nearly three hours, and she was sure he’d thought up more things to ask since then. There would be time to explain everything to Julian, if she so chose, and explain the complicated impact the information becoming public would have on Klingon politics twice if he didn’t understand it the first time. There would also be time to beg, if she had to. And if she could get him to agree to it, then when he met with Nerys, he could tell her immediately she would have her recommendation.
The evening shift was the longest duty shift in her life. Absolutely nothing happened during it, which was partly a relief, because she would not have been able to keep her mind fully on task, but it also made it worse, being left with nothing to do by try to continue her reading from the morning, and that was not nearly enough to keep her mind from going through the same process over and over. He’s got to agree to it. Do I need to tell him what Worf would do? What if he doesn’t understand that I can’t have him do that? I can’t tell him; I can’t tell him anything. But what if I have to tell him? How to tell him that Nerys is threatening me? What if he judges me for doing what I did? No, he won’t. He’ll understand; I know he’ll understand. But what if he still won’t do it? He can’t, he has to do it. I have to convince him…
At last it was over. The officer who came to relieve her was a minute or so late; she paced the entire time. The turbolift felt offensively slow. Jadzia hated how she felt by the time she was speedwalking to her door, so anxious and feeling like everything was at stake. Well, she reminded herself, everything was. She would get Julian to agree, the problem would go away, and then everything would be normal again.
She was almost afraid as she opened the door that Worf would still be up. But no, he and Turink were both fast asleep, which she carefully confirmed, before putting her face close to the console in the living area, turning the sound down until she could only just hear its quiet boop, and commanding, “Access Messages.”
The Message display came up, and with it, to Jadzia’s shock, a short, written message from Julian: Come see me tomorrow afternoon. There is something I need to tell you in person.
It had been unread, and the timestamp was 0004; Worf must have finally gone to bed before its arrival. So he knew Jadzia might receive it alone, she thought, unless he figured she’d just collapse into bed without looking at her messages first. Surely he hadn’t seen that as an advantage, though, she told herself. It made no sense, if he really had something that important to tell them, that he’d send a message addressing both of them while wanting only her to see it. She was just trying to mentally justify not telling Worf about any of this until her meeting with him tomorrow was over, because she already knew she wasn’t going to.
And yet…he had always been much closer to her than to Worf. And even if maybe he didn’t consciously not want Worf there tomorrow, unconsciously might be another matter.
When she commed him, he was bleary-eyed and his hair was heavily mussed; of course she’d woken him up. Just another necessary act at this point. “Hey, Julian,” she said to him. “We just got your message. Worf can’t make it; he’s got a meeting with Odo. But I can meet with you any time after 1400 hours.”
Julian looked for a moment like he was going to protest, ask if the meeting with Odo could be rescheduled, or at least if Worf had actually seen this message yet. But maybe, deep down, he did prefer to talk only to her, because he just said, “1430 then?”
“Agreed. I’ll let you go back to sleep now. Sorry for waking you. Goodnight.”
She was so quick to turn the comm off then he barely had time to wish her goodnight as well. She wished having gotten that task done could relax her, but no; she wouldn’t be relaxed until the following afternoon.
She managed to crawl into bed without waking Worf, though he muttered in his sleep and turned over. But she knew already it was going to take her a while to fall asleep, even as she burrowed her head into her pillow. Worf’s head rested on no pillow, which left his wife staring at one of his ears. It occurred to her that she couldn’t remember the last time she had cooed into it, the way she had done so many times when their relationship had been young, and he had gone from being annoyed by it to finally admitting, embarrassed, that he actually kind of liked it. She wasn’t even sure why she had fallen out of the habit. True, doing it in public on Qo’nos would’ve been a very bad idea, but it had always been something done in private more than not. She wasn’t even sure how he’d react now if she tried.
Maybe she ought to try to do things like that again, though. Not yet. Give him time to get used to being on a Starfleet base again, and preferably be done with this crisis, which he wouldn’t know about, of course, but he didn’t have to.
Although if he did, even apart from the affair becoming public, she knew what he would do then, and that she would be why she loved him, and why she had married him. Even if it would inevitably lead to that which she simply could not let happen.